College shouldn’t take four years, writes Lamar Alexander on Newsweek.
Hartwick college, a small liberal-arts school in upstate New York, makes this offer to well-prepared students: earn your undergraduate degree in three years (six semesters) instead of four, and save about $43,000—the amount of one year’s tuition and fees. A number of innovative colleges are making the same offer to students anxious about saving time and money.
Here’s a discussion of the three-year degree.
There’s no question that well-prepared students who know what they want to study can complete a degree in three years. That’s a huge cost savings for students — and colleges save when their facilities are in full use over the summer. But many students lack the academic skills and the direction to finish in three years — or four, for that matter. Perhaps colleges should use off-campus, online learning for students who need real-world time to clarify their goals.
It’s my college reunion this weekend. Many of my ’74 classmates are winding down their first career and thinking about what to do next. Or they’ve lost their jobs and moved to Plan B. I’m glad I had four years of college — and glad I didn’t linger there too long.